MINCO — Minco honored its Class C state championship football teams from 1968 and 1970 at halftime on Friday night. From the looks of it, this season's Bulldogs are a contender for a third title.
Combining a ball-control offense with a ferocious defense, No. 4-ranked Minco rolled past Okeene 21-6 at Memorial Stadium to clinch the District A-2 title. Jacob Smart rushed 30 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0), who close the regular season next week at Burns Flat-Dill City in a nondistrict game.
Minco quarterback Cade Baade completed 13 of 17 passes for 145 yards as the Bulldogs put together time-chewing drives lasting 5:17, 8:23, 6:11 and 9:06. The Bulldogs ran 64 plays compared to only 24 for Okeene (5-4, 3-2).
“That was kind of in the game plan,” Minco coach Clint Warren said. “That's what we were trying to do. We like to score points, but in big games, or playoff games, you've got to run the football and eat the clock. That's what's going to win in the playoffs.”
The Whippets entered the game with a shot at winning the district title but managed only two first downs and 51 yards of offense. Okeene didn't record a first down in the second half.
“We pride ourselves on being balanced, being able to run the football and throw the football,” Warren said. “I know we've got to run the football during the playoffs, but we've got to be able to throw it, too, and I think we're balanced enough that we can do both.”
The game didn't begin on a good note for Minco. On the game's first snap, Baade fumbled while handing off and Okeene's Trent Turner recovered at the Minco 13.
Three plays later, the Whippets pulled off a successful trick play, with quarterback Bret Wardlaw handing the ball off to split end Cody Day, who rolled right and passed to a wide-open Wardlaw in the left flat. Wardlaw scored easily on the 10-yard play, but the Whippets missed the extra-point attempt.
Minco drove 77 yards on its subsequent drive, with Smart scoring on a 29-yard run. Carrie Farmer's extra-point kick put the Bulldogs up 7-6. Okeene had a first-and-goal at the Minco 9 early in the second quarter, but settled for a 20-yard field-goal attempt by Day, which was blocked.
Minco took over with 9:22 before halftime and held the ball for 17 plays, running more than eight minutes off the clock. The Bulldogs lined up in punt formation from the Okeene 30, but Baade instead tried to run before seeing Jacob Overton open. The two connected on an apparent touchdown pass, but Baade was penalized for crossing the line of scrimmage before the throw, giving the ball back to Okeene.
Minco effectively clinched the win with two third-quarter touchdowns 26 seconds apart.
Smart capped a 12-play, 60-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:32 left in the third quarter, making it 14-6. On Okeene's first play after the ensuing kickoff, Minco's Dakota Bare intercepted a pass by Wardlaw and returned it 16 yards to the Okeene 34. On the next play, Baade threw a swing pass to Tyler Mitchum, who squeezed into the end zone.
Minco reached the Okeene 2 in the final moments before Baade twice took a knee.
“Last year, our goal was to make the playoffs,” Warren said. “This year, we've talked about, ‘We're going to play on Thanksgiving and see where it goes from there.' That would get us to the third round, and we'll see what happens. Once you get there, you know you're pretty good.”